I’d heard a lot about Lufthansa Airlines but never actually flew with them until recently on my trip to Barcelona. My ticket was through United, but the international flights were operated by Lufthansa. Overall I had a good experience and would fly Lufthansa again, but there were some things I would have liked to know beforehand.
You have limited control over your seat assignment.
Lufthansa assigns seats in the last 23 hours before a flight but charges a fairly high fee if you want your seat assignment before then. If you’re traveling alone, this probably isn’t a huge issue. I was traveling with my family but on a different reservation (we started out in different cities), so this made it really hard to get seats together. Going out we were all basically together, but on our 10.5 hour flight coming back, we were fairly scattered. It worked out, but it was frustrating.
You may not be able to check in and get a seat assignment from the website or app.
Our biggest frustration with seat assignments was that my dad and I spent over half an hour waiting at the Lufthansa service center in Frankfurt on our outbound trip to ask if they could link our reservations and ensure we got seats together only to be told they couldn’t do anything and that we should just check in 23 hours before the flight and choose seats together then. We each then checked into the flight on the app, and I changed my seat assignment to be closer to the rest of my family. However, when we checked in at the airport the next day, those were not the seats printed on our boarding passes! We think it didn’t go through since our passport information wasn’t entered into the app and is needed for an international flight.
Set up a frequent flyer account and enter passport information ahead of time for an international flight.
I set up a Lufthansa frequent flyer account, although I think I only got miles through United for the trip. Still, it’s worth doing. I didn’t even think about entering passport information though, which might have helped avert the frustration mentioned above.
If you want to check in online or through the app but booked through a different airline, make sure you have the Lufthansa confirmation code.
United helpfully sent me an email the day before the return flight encouraging me to check in with Lufthansa and providing the confirmation code to access my flight information and do so. However, I was the only one in my family or larger group who received an email like that. You should get the code for both airlines after booking, so write it down somewhere easy to access to save you time and make your life less stressful later!
Carry-ons will be weighed, and the size limit is strictly enforced.
I’ve flown a lot with the same trusty carry-on bag over the last few years and am good at packing it efficiently. At times it’s probably over the given dimensions, but no one has ever challenged me on it, and on small regional flights, it’s often gate-checked to begin with. No one has ever weighed it. It wasn’t as full as it can be coming home on this trip, so I didn’t expect any problems.
However, the Barcelona check-in agent weighed it and informed me that it was over the 8 kg weight limit. I quickly opened it up, moved several heavier items into my already fairly heavy backpack, and finally got it under the limit. This didn’t make much sense as the same amount of weight was still going on the plane, I knew it would fit in the overhead bins, and I was the only one who would be handling it. Once finally through security, I moved a couple things back from my backpack into the suitcase. It was still a reasonable size.
At the gate I was voluntold to check it all the way to my final destination because it was too big. I was a little nervous since I had breakables in it but agreed since it didn’t seem like I had much of an option. As it turned out, there was space in the overhead bins, but whatever. Luckily nothing got broken.
Just know that there is a weight limit, and they will check!
The boarding process is inefficient and a little confusing.
Lufthansa doesn’t have boarding groups, just a line for business and first class and another for everyone else. This means that as one flight boards, they may block essentially the whole hallway of the terminal, and you’ll be waiting in line for awhile, especially if you’re flying a double decker Boeing 747-400 like we were. It’s not a big deal, just surprising given the German reputation for efficiency. Line up early if you’re worried about space in the overhead bins!
In-flight service is good.
Despite all the initial frustrations and hindrances, the actual flight itself was totally fine. We agreed the food was fairly good as airplane meals go, and they provided a fair amount. On our transatlantic flights we got two full meals, and even on our two hour flight between Barcelona and Frankfurt we were offered a sandwich or cherry pie which is more than the small packet of pretzels most American airlines would give.
There were many movie and other entertainment options to choose from, so it wasn’t hard to find something that looked good, and the flight attendants were all helpful and nice. Long flights can only be so comfortable, but there’s nothing anyone can really do about that.
I’d recommend Lufthansa.
I know most of this post is me mentioning things I didn’t like or that caught me off guard, but I would fly Lufthansa again. Just know that some policies and procedures are not the same as United and plan accordingly! 🙂